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Exclusive Feature: Luna over the moon at start to Villa career
Antonio Luna tells Rob Bishop he is determined to be as successful as his world-famous neighbour.
22nd Oct 2013
Exclusive Feature: Luna over the moon at start to Villa career


Bishop

He hails from the same holiday island as Rafa Nadal but - just like the tennis World No 1 - Antonio Luna has no intention of heading to the beach and putting his feet up.

In an ideal world, Villa's new left-back would love to scale the heights achieved by one of his country's all-time sporting greats.

For the time being, though, the 22-year-old from Majorca is content for the time being to build gradually on the promising start he has made in claret and blue.

"Nadal is from a village really close to where I was born so I've always been interested in his achievements," he reveals. "I don't know him but I would love to be as good at football as he is at tennis.

"Rafa is a god in Spain. Perhaps I'll get there little by little and be regarded just as highly. But at the moment I'm just happy to be playing for Villa. I want to be here for many years.

"I was really happy when I heard Villa wanted to sign me because I've always wanted to play in this country. I followed the Premier League on television in Spain.

"I've had a good start here but I feel I can do better. I'm looking forward to developing my game as an Aston Villa player."

Luna has already made great strides in that direction, playing in all eight of our Barclays Premier League games so far and quickly establishing a reputation as a solid, reliable left-back.

He couldn't have asked for a better start, scoring on his debut in an iconic 3-1 opening day victory at the Ermirates Stadium against an Arsenal side who have subsequently swept all before them.

With Villa leading 2-1 and only four minutes remaining everyone in the stadium was surprised to see the visitors' left-back moving on to Andi Weimann's astute pass and racing through the middle to send a low left-foot shot past keeper Wojciech Szczesnyfrom the edge of the penalty area.

It was a goal worthy of any top striker, and catapulted the young man from Spain to cult hero status among the claret and blue faithful, who quickly latched on to the fact that his name translates into English as Tony Moon.

He has no problem with that, and he will always treasure the memory of his first competitive game for Villa.

"I still can't believe what happened at Arsenal," he admits. "It was a fantastic stadium, an amazing game - and it was incredible to score. The whole experience was spectacular. It was magnificent.

Luna

"I can't really explain why I was running through the middle of the pitch. I just did it without thinking. We had been defending a corner and I found myself in a different position as we came out.

"It was only my second goal (Luna also scored one for his former club Sevilla in La Liga) but it was very, very special - incredible.

"That was a great result because Arsenal have been brilliant since then - both in the Premier League and in the Champions League. That makes the fact that we beat them all the more significant.

"It would certainly be nice to think Villa can play in Europe again. It's not going to be easy but we have a good, young team who can get better, so why not?"

Luna has quickly adapted to the English game. Despite being on the receiving end of a couple of over-zealous challenges in the opening weeks of the campaign he hasn't uttered a single word of complaint.

"It's not great when something like that happens but I just get on with the game. There are bad challenges in every game and sometimes they are serious but it's just part of football and you have to deal with it.

"The game here is quicker and more physical. Essentially, though, there isn't a lot of difference. I believe the Barclays Premier League and La Liga are the two strongest leagues in the world.

"I really like the physical aspect. All the games are tough and I love that side of it. I'm really enjoying it."

He is also enjoying learning English with the club's players' welfare and liaison officer Lorna McClelland, who helped with the translation for this interview.

It's no easy matter for someone who has only ever spoken Spanish but he has quickly picked up the essential terms required for communication during a match.

Off the pitch, he can understand what is being said when his team-mates speak slowly for him, and he also engages in a little "self-help" by posting short, simple messages on Twitter in English as well as in his own language.

His tweets frequently reflect his mood after a match. In the wake of the home defeat by Newcastle, for instance, he tweeted "Bad game, bad feelings."

After the win at Norwich, inspired by a couple of outstanding saves by Brad Guzan, he wrote: "Simply spectacular bro @bguzan. Man of the match. You deserve it. I am very happy for you."

And on the morning after the dramatic 3-2 victory over Manchester City, he greeted his followers with: "Good morning to all. Today I wake up very happy."

"It's much easier for me to write in English than it is to speak," explains. "These are simple, short phrases that enable me to express how I'm feeling."

Right now, it's fair to say, Antonio Luna is feeling very happy.

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